Clause 101

Part of Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 25 June 2009.

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Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office 9:30, 25 June 2009

It is a cause of real regret that the hon. Gentleman wants to refer to Baroness Thatcher—the most abysmal, right-wing leader that this country has ever had, in any political party. She retarded the cause of feminine advance by years. He is clearly very ready to attach himself to her heritage.

What changes in the Tory party? Nothing whatever. We all know what to expect if the Tories get into power, and the more the hon. Gentleman talks, the less likely that becomes. It is extraordinary to say that he does not know how many women Baroness Thatcher had in her Cabinet because he was too young to know. I know how many women there were in Pitt the Younger’s and I was not born in 1790. I think he wanted to avoid the very pertinent and pointed question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury. No talk of reasoned amendments takes away from the fact—totally obvious to the many thousands of stakeholders who support the Bill—that the Tory party voted against it on Second Reading. It wishes no advance in equality at all.

Which Tory party members complained to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to get it galvanised into action against the BNP? Did we hear from the Tory party? Did it make a complaint? It is cause for concern that late in the day, as the hon. Gentleman puts it, the EHRC is taking action. We would wait a long time for the Tory party to galvanise one of our institutions into chasing after that racist party. He misses the target every time. He also misses the target in relation to the Minister for Women and Equality, because what she said in Parliament was correct.

I do not want to say too much about the current situation with the EHRC, because I hope that the BNP will get the message before it has to be taken to court, but the EHRC takes a particular view of the current law, which is not universally held. The Bill will put it beyond peradventure that a political party cannot discriminate against an existing or potential member on the basis of their race, sex, religion or belief. The hon. Gentleman has no point to make, and I do not think there was anything else that he wanted to raise on the clause.